arid (alone together)

we wake in the desert
alone together

we have nothing to do
alone together

let’s do something (i say)
that looks like nothing

and then it is evening
the sun dropping to horizon

we have found an old couch
to sit alone together

you swing legs and feet into my lap
and i dust off your soles

we sit in the desert
alone together

the light of day filtering
into darkness

the air softly cooling
just us palm to sole

we do not speak but breath
alone together

a full moon blankets the desert
silently arcing the night

we will sleep in the desert
alone together

—P.L. Thomas


the meaning of love (eviscerate)

i can be mean (she said)

yes (he said) even to the people you love

o no (she said) the closer i am the meaner i am

there were flashes of time
when he realized
he had never been loved like this

she teaching him
moment by moment
the meaning of love


—P.L. Thomas

i don’t belong here

in the dream
i have a thick black beard and hair

in real life
i have a greying beard and shaved head

in the dream
i trim too much of the beard and then shave everything

in real life
i wake anxious as always but check the mirror any way

a couple mornings a week
i transfer my grandchildren
from their mother to daycare

these children only about 2 and 4
live a life on constant shuffle
that my granddaughter rebels against

she begs for the brick house where i live
each time i strap her into the car seat
destined to another home that loves her

the morning after the black hair dream
she begins to scream and cry as i carry her
“i don’t belong here” reaching back to my car

i am much too old and anxious
for a four-year-old in existential crisis
on this spinning planet always in orbit

as i drive away with her crying on the couch
i check the rearview mirror again just in case
the person i was in the dream looks back at me

—P.L. Thomas

everything (redux)

they wanted everything
of each other

first she professed wanting everything
and he was afraid

eventually too he wanted everything
and she was overwhelmed

everything they discovered left no room
for anything else even oxygen

everything was heavier than anything
they had ever held before

everything is too hard she said it shouldn’t
be this hard she shook her head

everything he had ever wanted in her voice
and her face like infinity

everything had enveloped them like time
theirs to give without demand

he typed out the entire poem for her
because he became suddenly certain
that she must have these words
like those on the scrap of paper he found
in her handwriting just for him

he smoothed and centered the scrap
on a large index card taping it in place
this his bookmark in everything he read


—P.L. Thomas

when i die

Do my crying underwater
I can’t get down any farther

“Demons,” The National

will you come with no make up
barefoot in a soft dress shoulders bared

to sit in the grass as you look to the sky
with your legs crossed at the ankles

i am hoping it is a sunny day
or softly raining and warm

if you cry there for me gone
i hope i rest still in your heart

as you in mine no longer beating
if i can i will miss you forever

the weight of those legs in my lap
the soft curve of your foot in my hand

i died knowing you never needed me
i lived knowing you always wanted me

—P.L. Thomas

grammar Nazis (post-apostrophe literature)

when they came for the apostrophes
its like someone took all the stars
turning the night sky flat black

we were left with isnt and wont
all our its were jumbled
and everyone lost all their possessions

we began to bury dashes in the backyard
lock semicolons in chests in the attic
stuff commas by the handfuls in our pockets

some times in the inky darkness of night
exclamation points hidden like knives
under our pillows

we held hands or spooned whispering

itll be alright
they wont win
they wont win

—P.L. Thomas